Champion Racing final qualifying report

American team hoping "Old Glory" leads to "New Glory" A massive "stars & stripes" flag will be proudly draped over a 200mph Audi R8 sportscar during the colorful ceremony at the start of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday (10am ...

American team hoping "Old Glory" leads to "New Glory"

A massive "stars & stripes" flag will be proudly draped over a 200mph Audi R8 sportscar during the colorful ceremony at the start of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday (10am ET).

A 40-strong squad representing the American Team ADT Champion Racing outfit is gunning for honors in the annual French race - arguably the toughest motorsport event in the world.

Emanuele Pirro, a winner at Le Mans for the past three years, will share the driving duties with JJ Lehto and Stefan Johansson - both former Le Mans victors themselves. Pirro set the fourth fastest time (3min 37.316secs) on Wednesday evening and while Lehto improved to a 3:36.857 in tonight's concluding four hour time trial, the Florida-based team lines-up sixth on the capacity 50-car grid.

12 of the 150 drivers - representing 22 different nations - have previously won at Le Mans. Given dry weather conditions, the winning car will clock up in excess of 3,000-miles at an average speed of over 130mph. The proud American outfit is determined that "Old Glory" leads to a "new glory" come 10am (ET) on Sunday morning . . .

Emanuele Pirro (41), of Italy: "We accomplished a lot in the pre-test last month so arrived this week very well prepared. Qualifying on the third row is not a problem to me - importantly the car is good in race trim and that is all that matters."

JJ Lehto (36), of Finland: "We've worked on tactics and set-up specifically for the race - we could not challenge for pole-position. There has been a massive amount of preparation - it's the biggest privateer operation I've seen in my career."

Stefan Johansson (46), of Sweden: "The team has made a huge effort - quite extraordinary. You can speculate and predict about the race but no one knows how it'll work out. We have done everything humanly possible in terms of preparation."

Brad Kettler , Champion Racing's Technical Director: "We've focused on maximizing our race strategy in terms of tire wear and fuel economy during much of the qualifying sessions. We're perfectly happy with everything - we're ready to go!"

Dave Maraj , Champion Racing's Team Owner: "My team has been racing for just over 10 years but this is only our second race in Europe - the first being here at Le Mans two years ago. My team is here to try to win - not make up the numbers."

Rod Bymaster , Audi Sport North America's Motorsport Manager: "Champion has got itself a good racecar, capable of consistently fast laps, for this weekend and importantly all three drivers are happy with the set-up."

-cr-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Dave Maraj , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto